Portal:Aboriginal peoples in Canada

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The Aboriginal peoples in Canada Portal
This is a sister portal of the Canada Portal

Introduction

A life-sized bronze statue of an Aboriginal and eagle above him; there is  a bear to his right and a wolf to his left, they are all looking upwards towards a blue and white sky
The Canadian Aboriginal veterans monument
in Confederation Park, Ottawa.
Noel Lloyd Pinay, 2001.
Photo by Padraic Ryan ca. 2007.

In Section thirty-five of the 1982 Canadian Constitution Act, Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" are falling into disuse. Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are some of the earliest archaeological sites of human habitation in Canada. The Paleo-Indian Clovis, Plano cultures and Pre-Dorset pre-date American indigenous and Inuit cultures. Projectile point tools, spears, pottery, bangles, chisels and scrapers mark archaeological sites, thus distinguishing cultural periods, traditions and lithic reduction styles.

Hundreds of Aboriginal nations evolved trade, spiritual and social hierarchies. The Métis culture of mixed blood originated in the mid-17th century when First Nation and native Inuit married European settlers. The Inuit had more limited interaction with European settlers during that early period. Various laws, treaties, and legislation have been enacted between European immigrants and First Nations across Canada. Aboriginal Right to Self-Government provides opportunity to manage historical, cultural, political, health care and economic control aspects within first people's communities.

There are currently over 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands encompassing 1,172,790 2006 peoples spread across Canada with distinctive Aboriginal cultures, languages, art, music and beliefs. National Aboriginal Day recognises the cultures and contributions of Aboriginals to the history of Canada. In all walks of life First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have become prominent figures serving as role models in the Aboriginal community and help to shape the Canadian cultural identity.

Atrapasueños-rafax2.JPG More about...Aboriginals in Canada, the peoples and diversity.

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"Loon, Serpentine" - Itulu Itidluie, Cape Dorset.

Inuit art refers to artwork produced by Inuit, that is, the people of the Arctic also known as Eskimos, a term that may be deemed offensive outside Alaska. Historically their preferred medium was ivory, but since the establishment of southern markets for Inuit art in 1945, prints and figurative works carved in relatively soft stone such as soapstone, serpentinite, or argillite have also become popular.

All of the Inuit utensils, tools and weapons were made by hand from natural materials: stone, bone, ivory, antler, and animal hides. Nomadic people could take very little else with them besides the tools of their daily living; non-utilitarian objects were also carved in miniature so that they could be carried around or worn, such as delicate earrings, dance masks, amulets, fetish figures, and intricate combs and figures which were used to tell legends and objectify their mythology and oral history.

As the Inuit settled into communities in the late 1940s, their carvings became larger, and the requests to produce them as artwork increased. The Government of Canada recognized the potential economic benefit of commercial art to the isolated Arctic communities, and encouraged the development and promotion of Inuit sculpture. This encouragement was initially heavy-handed, as is most clearly shown by the pamphlet "Eskimo Handicrafts", circulated among Inuit communities in the early 1950s. Intended to provide inspiration to Inuit sculptors, this pamphlet depicted artifacts in the collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization; many of the objects pictured, such as totem poles, were not germane to Inuit culture. James Archibald Houston, the author of Eskimo Handicrafts, was later sent to Baffin Island to collect specimens of Inuit sculpture. During his stay there, he introduced printmaking to the artists' repertoire. Figures of animals and hunters, family scenes, and mythological imagery became popular. By the 1960s, co-operatives were set up in most Inuit communities, and the Inuit art market began to flourish.

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Chief Crowfoot ca. 1885

Crowfoot (c. 1830 – 25 April 1890) or Isapo-Muxika (Blackfoot Issapóómahksika, "Crow-big-foot") was a chief of the Siksika First Nation. His parents, Istowun-eh'pata (Packs a Knife) and Axkahp-say-pi (Attacked Towards Home), were Kainai. His brother Iron Shield became Chief Bull. He was only five when Istowun-eh'pata was killed during a raid on the Crow tribe, and a year later, his mother remarried to Akay-nehka-simi (Many Names) of the Siksika people. The young boy was adopted by the Siksika, who gave him the name Kyi-i-staah (Bear Ghost), until he could receive his father’s name, Istowun-eh’pata.

Though he was well respected for his bravery, Crowfoot refused to join the North-West Rebellion of 1885, believing it to be a lost cause. In 1886, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald invited Crowfoot to Ottawa. Crowfoot went, as did Three Bulls and Red Crow, but soon fell ill and had to return from Ottawa. Because of his brave performance and injury during the battle, he was final given his adult name, Isapo-muxika, taken from a deceased relative.

Crowfoot was a warrior who fought in as many as 19 battles and sustained many injuries. Despite this, he tried to obtain peace instead of tribal warfare. When the Canadian Pacific Railway sought to build their mainline through Blackfoot territory, negotiations with Albert Lacombe convinced Crowfoot that it should be allowed.

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Eskimo Family NGM-v31-p564.jpg
The traditional lifestyle of the Inuit is adapted to extreme climatic conditions; their essential skills for survival are hunting and trapping. Agriculture was never possible in the millions of square kilometers of tundra and icy coasts from Siberia to Northern America and Greenland. Hunting is at the core of Inuit culture.

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Over 50% of the Aboriginal communities live in urban settings, in those communities almost 60% of the population is under the age of 25.

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Micmac-confirmation.jpg
Text of the Rite of Confirmation in Mi'kmaq hieroglyphs.
The text reads "Koqoey nakla msɨt telikaqumila’laji?" – literally 'Why / those / all / after he did that to them?', or "Why are all these different steps necessary?"

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